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Gravel vs. Road

"So I've Been Thinking About Getting a Gravel Bike..."

This is a common statement we’ve heard this year, especially in a year almost devoid of triathlons. We've seen many people dust off their old road bike in favor of doing different, more adventurous rides to break up the monotony of sitting in their aerobars hammering out workouts for some race that’s probably not going to happen. But the second they hop on their road bike from 2010 with a max tire clearance of 23mm, the rattling feeling in their bones and brain makes them realize their bike doesn’t fair well on chunky gravel. Meanwhile they watch their riding buddy float over everything with 40mm tacky tread on their new gravel bike.

So they pick up the phone to call us in a moment of euphoria to say: “So I’ve been thinking about getting a gravel bike.”

But before you sell your old bike and go all in on gravel, consider one question: What type of riding do you plan on using this bike for most? Because if the answer is still mostly road riding, I’d ask you to reconsider.

Bike companies have been paving the way for a type of road bike that's not only a comfortable, fast endurance machine, but a bike that is capable of taking on 98% of the gravel roads you’d encounter in and around the Front Range. Let’s talk about a few of our favorites…

The Specialized Roubaix
The Roubaix has been one of Specialized most popular bikes because of it’s wide-ranging geometry, shock-reducing features like future-shock, and ability to run wider tires. Pictured here is a Specialized Roubaix Expert with 30/32 Roubaix Tubeless Tires.

The Cervélo Caledonia
A new bike to the Cervélo lineup, Cervélo created an experience bike designed to take on the toughest roads and the longest rides. Looking at the emerging gravel market they asked, why buy a bike for the terrain you only encounter for 10% of your rides? Ride a bike that can take on just about everything and not suffer from the weight and rolling resistance of a true gravel bike.

For both of these road bikes, because of their ability to run wider tires, many riders have opted for buying a second wheelset that they outfit with a 33mm knobby tire. They can quickly and seamlessly swap between their road tire wheelset and their gravel tire wheelset depending on the ride and terrain they want to take on. Though this is also something that can be done with a gravel bike!

On the flip side, maybe you’ve thought it through and you really do want the more dirt-immersive and playful experience you get out of a gravel bike. If you spend five minutes doing research you’ll find out pretty quickly that there a lot of avenues you can take with different types of gravel bikes.

Do you want 700c wheels? 650b? Suspension? Race geometry? Endurance geometry? Drop bars? Flat bars? Dropper posts? Bike-packing rack bosses? 1x? 2x? Eagle? Mullet-style. The list goes on. Let us dispel a few mysteries...

In most cases, you can do all of these things on any gravel frame. Some will come stock with these options and others leave you the option to change. Let’s look at two of our leading gravel bike options:
The Specialized Diverge
The Diverge is a bike that has evolved over the years. This was the first road-style bike that Specialized created that allowed for super wide tires and rim profiles to cater to an emerging market of road cyclist who were turning to the dirt to diversify their rides. The most recent iteration of this bike includes features that soften the ride when the road gets rough such as future-shock. What about bike packing? The Diverge gives you endless storage options. The 2021 models have bosses for up to 6 bottles or other bike-packing accessories. Higher end models will also have an internal frame storage box (SWAT) for your flat kit, wind jacket, snacks, or whatever else you’d want to store away. 

Cervélo Aspero
Designed to break the mold of a typical gravel bike, Cervélo took aim at the rider who wants to go fast and simply prefers a more race-like experience. With options that come stock with 650b wheels and an almost mountain-bike like experience on one end to others that aim more at speed and performance, coming stock with carbon wheels and electronic shifting.

Still not sure which bike is right for you? Let’s talk about it! We have options for all of these bikes in stock and can help you make that decision for yourself!